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Higher Education, Unjobbing and Big Box Stores

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Posted on : 8:59 AM | By : Nic | In : , ,

Confession:

Yesterday we shopped at a certain big box store for a few essential items... deodorant, socks, razors, rubber bands, and a stainless steel water bottle.  This is the store we normally avoid and end up at Zellers (the Canadian version of K-Mart) instead.  I got 20 pairs of socks for $10, the deodorant was natural and everything except the water bottle was made in Canada or the US.

I hate that store, and we never buy clothing items there, ever.  But we still had to find cheap shoes for the girls, and ended up at Baby Gap.  I have to confess too that I absolutely love Baby Gap clothes, and I would wear everything in there if it were the right size.  Gap is marginally better than some (after some pressure by activists, which you can see on the Social Responsibility page), but while I used to have a special kind of hatred reserved for ol' Wally, it's not the store itself that is harmful to cultures, the environment, and the economy.

It's the products, which are available at any big box store. Any store that lowers prices by carrying products that outsource to countries willing to work for less, is willing to sacrifice the environment even a little bit for cost, and takes more jobs from North American workers than they give (and that's pretty much every store) is just as bad.

The problem is that when I need socks, I can't get them at the thrift store, and I can't afford the organic fair trade ones.  So my only option is to limit what we buy, and how much gas we use to get there, which is exactly what we did.  Part of the trouble is that the reality of unjobbing is that it's resourceful poverty.  We don't feel the crunch because we choose not to have stuff that other people have, stuff that we don't need.  We don't feel obligated to give our kids things that other people feel their children have a right to, like lots of toys or Barbies, or even lots of clothes.  I don't even want people to give us old kid's clothes anymore because there's just so much of it.

This is the kind of unjobbing we do because we don't really have another way to do it, although there is another way.  Low income means less opportunities for travel, cultural events, homeschool resources and makes it very tricky to stay debt free like we are.  Someday we would like to buy a house, and we want to buy it cash.  Someday we want to take the kids to Japan.  We want to have five kids, but we want to adopt a couple of those kids because we feel that is our social responsibility.  When you buy stuff at the store it is possible to be completely sustainable and fair trade as long as you have a bit more to spend.  It all takes money.

Unjobbing is a misleading term.  It's not about not having a job, or not working.  It's about working at something you enjoy rather than selling your soul for money as you work at a 'job' that you hate.  For some people (and for us right now) it's about working less, and taking a job with freedom to choose our schedule and the ability to work together if we want.  But the next step in the journey is higher education.  What an opportunity it will be to raise our kids right on a university campus.  John's going to be at school for so long that our oldest will be a teenager by the time we move on to a career afterwards, but think of all the ideas and events they will have access to.  Hopefully it inspires them to go to college too.

Comments (1)

unjobbing..... I like it..... I have been looking for a term for what I do.